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Will Voting Change Anything In Delhi? Well, Not Voting Definitely Will – For The Worse!

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By Anannya Chatterjee:

In a massive democratic set-up like ours, the significance of voting is manifold. It ensures that the supreme power is vested in the hands of people like you and me, and provides us an enormous opportunity to bring down a government that goes against the citizens’ good will and elect a new government to work as their representatives. The system of voting gives people the ability to voice their opinions and have a valid representation in the governance of the country. Every vote can help strengthen our democracy and prevent the country from being exploited by politicians with vested interests. The educated voters have a significant role to play in such a set-up, as they can make informed choices based on the education and awareness that they have been exposed to. However, it is quite unfortunate that many of even this educated lot avoid voting for various reasons; some take the voting day to be a holiday, others abstain from voting since they aren’t aware of the candidates and their backgrounds well enough to vote for them. Such a condition would only pave way for politicians to extract votes by unfair means, which would ultimately damage the very idea of a democracy.

Picture Credit: Ramesh Lalwani
Picture Credit: Ramesh Lalwani

One year of being under the President’s rule, India’s political nucleus is gearing up for a fresh round of Assembly elections on the 7th of February. With parties like BJP and AAP ferociously campaigning across the capital and the Congress trying to slither back to power, it is imperative for us to realize the heightened need to vote in such a volatile political environment.

Delhi Assembly Elections 2013 saw a historical victory of the newly born Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) overthrowing the Congress which held its seat for a good 15 years. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal took over as the Chief Minister of Delhi, only to resign 49 days later, keeping the Delhi Assembly in suspended animation. The resignation evoked a mixed response from the people; some considered the failure inevitable while others went in a state of shock of having their expectations crumbled. Taking advantage of the situation, the BJP in its recent rally at Ramlila Maidan accused AAP to be inconsistent and incapable of delivering what it promised, and appealed diligently to the people in Delhi to not vote for such parties. It also made promises like 24/7 electricity across the city with people having a choice to select their power service provider, and better residential flats, water and health facilities for the slum dwellers. On the other hand, AAP is reaching out to people by assuring them of better law and order in the city, bringing down violence against women by deploying security guards and swift action against corruption prevalent in Delhi. In such a situation in which the electoral battlefield is pretty convulsive and the state is neck down in rampant corruption, widespread sexual violence against women and children, and other heinous crimes, it is of paramount importance for us to scrutinize the candidates with extreme caution and express our participation by bringing the deserving candidates to power.

The consequences of not voting can be quite disastrous in the long run. Although MLA candidates having criminal records in their affidavits isn’t news to us citizens, it has grown to be quite a nuisance. As per a study done by three NGOs in the Lok Sabha elections held in 2014, namely Association for Democratic Reforms, Action for Good Governance and Networking in India, and Mumbai Votes , 798 of the 2,336 candidates declared criminal cases in their affidavits, 537 of whom have serious charges like murder, kidnapping, promoting communal disharmony and crimes against women against them. Refraining from voting essentially increases the chances of such candidates misleading the illiterate/uneducated masses with false assurances or threatening them with dire consequences if the votes are not collected in their favour, as a result of which the undeserving and potentially dangerous candidates sweep away the seats in various constituencies. Other dishonest means adopted by the candidates like manipulating the EVM and bogus voting are quite prevalent in the nation, which could only be prevented when the educated masses work to create awareness, take a stand, and decide to make their vote count.

The current circumstances in the capital have made people more aware of their needs and demands than ever , and they are quite dissatisfied with the inefficient governance in the past. However, this should not prevent us from coming out on the streets and exercising our power in the elections, since it is our prime responsibility as citizens of India to have a say in what should constitute the matters of importance by voting for the candidate we deem fit for the purpose. The need of the hour demands that the people leave behind the comfort of their homes, make informed decisions and help bring about change.

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  1. Karmanye Thadani

    Well-written indeed and not partisan!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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